If there were still any doubts about the shifting tide of US Cuba policy then they have been well and truly dispelled by the news the Fanjul brothers (pictured) have traveled to Cuba and would like to invest there.
The Fanjuls are billionaires who made their money in sugar. They are also known for huge political campaign contributions in support of their sugar interests, and for being long-time, stalwart supporters of the U.S. economic blockade against Cuba. So powerful are they that President Clinton reportedly broke off a liaison with Monica Lewinsky to take a call from Alfonso (Alfy), pictured left above.
Hitherto, the Fanjuls have been identified with the generation that plans to return to Cuba only “cuando se vayan aquellos,” that means when the Castros have gone. Indeed, they were partly repsonsible for the Helms-Burton law of 1996 that quite literally prevents the United States from normalizing relations until those two have gone.
Now it has emerged that the brothers visited Cuba in 2012 and 2013 where they expressed no interest in recovering their property, but where they did express a clear interest in helping to revive the beleaguered sugar sector.
Last weekend, brother Alfy made all this public in the Washington Post. Alfy says, “One day we hope that the United States and Cuba would find a way so the whole Cuban community could be able to live and work together.”
This very high profile political torpedo has been fired two months after President Obama said in Miami that “we have to update our policies” toward Cuba, within weeks of the new Port at Mariel accepting its first ship and a month before Cuba is to announce new laws aimed at encouraging foreign investment.
In Cuban-American terms, the Fanjuls' switch is earth shaking. Its seismic importance is reflected in the hysterical reactions of Republican Cuban-Americans Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart.
If the Fanjuls put their money where their mouth now seems to be, it will mean their campaign cash will be going to politicians that hope to “find a way” to get back into the island and not into the pockets of these hardline anti-Castroites.
That could make all the difference come the next Presidential race, if by then there is an embargo left to fight over.